39 things you need to know from NFC minicamps

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  • By Kevin Patra, Chris Wesseling, Gregg Rosenthal NFL.com
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Shadowy league figures have nearly succeeded in their quest to make the NFL a year-round sport. In truth, there are only five dead weeks off during the pro football calendar. Summer vacation starts now.

Twenty-five teams wrapped up their mandatory minicamps this week, and will go into hibernation until late July. Here's what we learned from each one of them before the break:

Atlanta Falcons


1. The best thing to happen in Atlanta this week happened during a media session. Julio Jones confirmed he won't hold out of any work in the coming months (and years) as he seeks a new deal.

2. The Falcons struggled to replace Tony Gonzalez at tight end last year. Jacob Tamme probably won't change that trend, but he has taken early hold of the tight end job this offseason.

3. The release of former first-round tackle Sam Baker this week highlighted Atlanta's dramatic offensive line overhaul. Change can't be a bad thing for this group.

Chicago Bears


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1. Second-year corner Kyle Fuller received rave reviews from camp. While the focus has been on the front seven, Vic Fangio's D has a history of developing good, physical press corners and Fuller could be the next one.

2. Kyle Long's excursions along the offensive line could eventually lead to a permanent move to tackle that could upgrade a weak unit. The question is whether a change happens this year or down the line.

3. John Fox said key injured players, receiver Kevin White and linebacker Jon Bostic, are expected to be back for training camp. The rookie, White, will have to battle up the depth chart, as Jay Cutler said he's currently No. 4. The Bears also added running back Daniel Thomas in advance of training camp.

Carolina Panthers


1. Kelvin Benjamin hurt his hamstring for the second time and Ron Rivera questioned whether it was weight related -- the receiver reportedly came in eight to nine pounds overweight. (We refuse to call it WeightGate!) General manager Dave Gettleman called it much ado about nothing.

2. No one player has grabbed the defensive end position opposite Charles Johnson. According to Ron Rivera, the Panthers will likely enter the season with a committee approach once again. It was the spot formerly held by Greg Hardy.

3. Cam Newton has been attempting to fix his footwork this offseason. Imagine if Cam ever became a precision passer...

Dallas Cowboys


1. It's easy to see why owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett are unconcerned about Dez Bryant's threat to sit out the season opener after the franchise player arrived at AT&T Stadium for the final practice of minicamp on Thursday. The deadline for Bryant to sign a long-term contract is July 15.

2. While Bryant's status remains cloudy, No. 2 receiver Terrance Williams has been lavished with praise all offseason. Wide receivers coach Derek Dooley and quarterback Tony Romo are both glowing with excitement about Williams' development.

3. Running back Darren McFadden and linebacker Sean Lee will enter training camp at full health. McFadden sat out last week with a hamstring tweak and Lee is coming off ACL surgery.

Detroit Lions


1. Rookie running back Ameer Abdullah has been the talk of the week. If he continues his performance when the pads come on, he'll cut deeply into Joique Bell's carries this season -- and could even usurp them.

2. With a depleted front line and a bevy of options at defensive back -- even after releasing Bill Bentley -- the Lions could use more dime packages this season. The changes in personnel could unleash an even more creative coordinator in Teryl Austin.

3. Speaking of the defensive front, second-year tackle Caraun Reid took the majority of first team reps alongside Haloti Ngata as the Lions try to replace Ndamukong Suh, per the Detroit News' Josh Katzenstein. A training camp battle between Tyrunn Walker and Reid will be something to watch, as Detroit needs to find production inside.

Green Bay Packers


1. Mike McCarthy said Davante Adams is the offseason MVP and Aaron Rodgers won't stop gushing about the receiver. The coach also added he expects his offensive line to be even better than last year (he's right). This offense could be unstoppable.

2. The Packers spent one day at a team-building event and McCarthy gave most of the veterans the day off, so many on-field questions remain unanswered. But by giving up his play-calling duties this year, the coach has had more time to spend with the defense, and the players are loving it so far.

3. Linebacker Nick Perry revealed he had shoulder surgery that hindered his play last year. With Clay Matthews expected to move inside more this season, Perry could take over some of those snaps if he can stay healthy.

Minnesota Vikings


1. After a dismal season, Norv Turner thinks the offensive line will be fine. We'll have to see it in August to believe the group won't short circuit an otherwise intriguing offense.

2. Linebacker Anthony Barr only worked out during individual drills as he returns from a knee injury. Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks looked impressive, especially in pass coverage, per beat reporters. Mike Zimmer's defense could be studly in Year 2.

3. Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright are currently atop the receiver depth chart, but Turner said Cordarrelle Patterson "is in the mix" as well.

New Orleans Saints


1. C.J. Spiller and Brandin Cooks were the stars of minicamp, dominating practices with their speed and elusiveness. We expect big things out of both players, perhaps as the top two weapons in Sean Payton's arsenal.

2. Keep an eye on cornerback Delvin Breaux, a former Hamilton Tiger-Cats star who shut down the Colts' Duron Carter in last year's CFL playoffs. Breaux worked as the first-team nickelback in Wednesday's practice.

3. After trading Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, the Saints are giving long looks to Seantavious Jones and Brandon Coleman, a pair of undrafted wide receivers who impressed throughout the offseason. They are battling Nick Toon and veteran Josh Morgan for snaps behind Cooks and Marques Colston.

New York Giants


1. Wide receivers Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz were held out of minicamp practices. The Giants are being cautious with Beckham after last summer's lingering hamstring injury. Cruz hopes to avoid the physically unable to perform list for the start of training camp.

2. All indications from offseason practices suggest free-agent acquisition Shane Vereen will have a significant role in the Giants' offense. As a tandem partner to Rashad Jennings, Vereen should top his career-high of 148 touches from last season.

3. Unsigned franchise player Jason Pierre-Paul skipped minicamp, as expected. If momentum for a new deal doesn't pick up by early July, he's likely to play under the one-year tag for 2015.

Philadelphia Eagles


1. Although Sam Bradford has yet to graduate from 7-on-7 drills, he fully expects his knee to be ready for full-team practices in training camp. He has his hands full trying to hold off an improved Mark Sanchez.

2. First-round pick Nelson Agholor has not disappointed, but that doesn't mean he will enter the season in a starting role. Second-year wideout Josh Huff has been lining up opposite Riley Cooper on the outside in three-wide receiver sets, with Jordan Matthews in the slot. The coaching staff is high on Huff, per multiple reports.

3. After more than a year of contract squabbling, the Eagles released Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis. His starting job is up for grabs, with Andrew Gardner working ahead of Matt Tobin, Dennis Kelly and Kevin Graf at right guard this week.

Seattle Seahawks


1. Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin both showed up for the team's one-day mandatory minicamp Thursday after skipping voluntary work. Irvin says the team's decision not to pick up his fifth-year option has motivated him to work harder, which was precisely the point.

2. Pete Carroll announced that cornerback Jeremy Lane experienced a setback in his recovery from the broken arm he suffered in the Super Bowl. The valuable reserve sounds unlikely to be ready for camp.

3. It was a luxury to use a third-round pick on a return specialist in Tyler Lockett. But all reports indicate that he has looked sensational in practice and could be a factor as a receiver as well.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers


1. Jameis Winston is saying all the right things and progressing well by all accounts. He was still taking snaps behind Mike Glennon during some minicamp practices, but don't expect that to continue for long in training camp.

2. Mike Evans lined up as the "X" receiver in camp, with Vincent Jackson moving inside more often. This is the next logical step in Evans' evolution into a true "No. 1" wideout. It's also a change for Evans.

3. Despite a few rough seasons, Doug Martin continues to get the starter snaps at running back. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter seems to like him, which doesn't bode well for second-year player Charles Sims.

Washington Redskins


1. Coach Jay Gruden is cautiously optimistic about Robert Griffin III's progress, noting that the quarterback is "just taking baby steps right now" in his pocket presence and going through progressions. Griffin will have to play better this August than he did in last year's preseason action.

2. Rookie bruiser Matt Jones has vowed to "put some pressure" on Alfred Morris for the starting running back job. Since the draft, the Redskins' brass has been talking up Jones as a potential impact player.

3. Pierre Garcon's playmaking ability too often went to waste in the switch from Kyle Shanahan's offense to Gruden's last season. Garcon has moved from the "X" spot to the "Z," which is the featured position in Gruden's scheme. The coaches are determined to get Garcon more involved this season.

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